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Best Albums Of The 2010s: Number 10- "In Spades" by The Afghan Whigs

Released in 2017, the second album since they were resurrected by band leader Greg Dulli, "In Spades" stands comparison with the finest of their 1990s output. Whereas "Do To The Beast" occasionally hit the heights, this grabs the listener from the outset on "Birdland";  its otherworldly sounds morphing into wobbly synth stabs offset with string work making you question what you are hearing. The familiar Whigs traits soon take over before "Arabian Heights" confirms we really are hearing something special that demonstrates why this band have always been a touchstone for me. The slippery grooves, the yearning vocals, the soul, funk and rhythm & blues influences molded to rock attitude, the movie soundtrack feel and above all the impassioned songs that linger long in the mind.
Lead single "Demon In Profile" is an absolute classic. Put it on the greatest hits, with the horns carrying the day along with the usual Dulli mixture of carnal and spiritual themes.
"Toy Automatic" shows just how good they are at 'the build' working to a fever pitch, with the horns again providing the difference. "Oriole" takes us back, sound wise, to more familiar guitar driven rock whilst continuing to prove that they really are a band like no other. Great 'build' in this one too.
"Copernicus" flips between feels and grooves in the way the band so often do with noisy rock laid over the top. "The Spell" yet again builds from a gentle start on the Fender Rhodes before rising to the heights and gently landing us back safely on the ground.
"Light As A Feather" takes the classic 1970s influences, with a twisted funk guitar riff that has just enough rock grit in it to vault us forward twenty years to 1996.
"I Got Lost" and "Into The Floor" close things out with in traditional style with the kind of after hours ballads that send the listener, if not gently at least happily, into the night. "Into The Floor" in particular easily stands alongside "Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer", "The Vampire Lanois" and "Faded" as perfect, and epic, album finales.
I've always used the band as a kind of musical shibboleth. You'd be amazed how many people who are really 'into music' have never heard of them, but stumble across the occasional fellow believer and you will invariably find someone hopelessly enamored of this unique band. They have influenced so many other artists, yet no sounds quite like them. Perhaps this is what makes them such fantastic interpreters of other songs. See their version of "Band Of Gold" for example.
After the peerless run of "Gentlemen", "Black Love" and "1965" in the 1990s it was understandable to wonder after "Do To The Beast" if they would ever hit those heights again. Well the answer is most definitely yes. 

If you've never entered the sleazy, uplifting, dark and soulful world of Greg Dulli and co. then I urge you to do so, and this album is as good a place to start as any. I am thrilled that they have, (again), made one of the albums of a decade.

"When it burns and falls into the floor, feel it rise and come and get some more, I'll remember you always this way.........."


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